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February 5, 2013 at 11:02 AM

City Hall’s curious accounting to help the homeless

Apparently the Seattle City Council believes in a variation on the theme of “we had to destroy the village to save it.”

The council is cutting the budgets of nine homeless centers to provide money for two more homeless centers. Gee, that is handy.
Those displaced from existing services will have a place to go. Is that the theory?

Read Times reporter Lynn Thompson’s story about the latest machinations with budgeting for homeless centers.

No one disputes the need to help an ever growing population of people living on the streets of Seattle. Trimming the budgets of working programs to serve clients at new locations is an odd way to go about it. Robbing Peter to pay Paul might not be an expression used by City Hall minions with MBAs, but it certainly fits.

Consider the Urban Rest Stop, which operates in downtown Seattle and the University District. Two sites provide thousands of clients a month with the basics: access to toilets, showers and laundry facilities. These program already survive by the grace of volunteers, donor generosity and sales on detergent.

Many clients have jobs, but as a Times editorial noted, a paycheck does not equate to affording housing and food, or that the landlord paid the mortgage. Homelessness happens to hard-working people.

The Seattle City Council is tampering with programs that deliver results. Extending a helping hand to the homeless might begin with reaching into the city treasury for more money. Pinching pennies only squeezes those who, for the moment, have no options.

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